Learning is constant. It happens all over your brain. It may not always feel good but it is always good for you.
This week’s episode of John Oliver was the cure for exactly what ails me.
I’ve been feeling really helpless since the election and the best remedy I’ve found so far is supporting organizations that are in line with my beliefs.
I’ve been a monthly supporter of Planned Parenthood for a while now but on Wednesday I signed up for a monthly donation to the ACLU.
Center for Reproductive Rights
Natural Resources Defense Council
The International Refugee Assistance Project
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The Trevor Project
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Pick one, pick a few, pick all of them. Send $5/month if that’s all you can afford.
Yes, it did take this drastic moment in our history to make me realize how important it is to donate. But here we are. I can’t wait for my umbrella stand to be as full of full of emblems as the one I grew up with.
A few weeks ago I went to visit a cousin of mine at his maritime academy. Everyone wore uniforms, spoke in military time.
One of the things that struck me pretty hard was what my cousin said about hazing. The freshmen had to wear super short haircuts and run everywhere. He was hating it.
The upperclassmen are allowed to treat the frosh like crap until the frosh move up by proving they can treat someone else like crap.
Much the same way that the last wave of immigrants to America (Irish?) who were once shat upon can now point to Somali immigrants to prove their American-ness, their ability to shit on new guys.
This is the most American, most patriarchal system we have. It is defining. It is sickening.
A delicious take down for your Thursday morning.
I just saw the pictures of Melania Trump. All of Melania Trump.
And I was immediately struck with a conundrum. I wanted to point to it, “This is the face you want on the white house? This is how you define Republican, family first values?”
Followed immediately by Dan Savage’s voice in my head about Anthony Weiner. Most young people today are taking pictures of themselves, the technology is just too accessible. Most people try pot. If you want to have leaders who aren’t amish then you need to be ok with the fact that they’re human and have pasts.
And then I hated myself for slut shaming her.
And then I decided that if throwing this in the face of the right wing sways one vote then posting it will have been worth it.
So I did. I put it on Facebook. And immediately felt guilty. Within a few hours I took it down.
I don’t want to use slut shaming just because it actually works in my favor this time around. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not human enough to have thought about it. A lot.
When I left home for college I met the first person in my life who was all “feminism is bullshit, we don’t need it.” I had no idea how to respond. I’d never met someone like that before. My blood boiled, feminism was duh. Why you gotta be so dumb? And (worst of all) also have a pretty face I want to talk to? Argh! Conflict.
The charts are amazing.
The silence is brutal.
This weekend I had a surprise visit from one of my most beloved long distance friendships.
And while we were brunching he said one of my favorite things.
One of the things I hate about being a black man writing about race is knowing that somewhere out there is some white dude who is going to take my opinion (as of this moment, knowing only what I know and feel as of today) and use it as gospel with which to abuse some other black person who happens to have a different opinion from me.
And if he doesn’t exist yet then just by writing it I’ll have popped him into existence.
But you get the gist.
By being a part of this group I get to have an opinion based on my experiences. But that doesn’t mean that you get to take that opinion and run with it, ‘splaining it to everyone who might disagree with me. And worst, using it to abuse them and call them wrong, invalidate their experiences. You get to think a little deeper about the topic. You get to fold it into yourself and make more considerate decisions.
He meta’s even my metas.
Raise a glass to freedom.
I was working with a bunch of women the other day (gasp) when one of them said to me “I’ve been so feminist-y lately. Everything has been setting me off!”
I found the statement a little funny but asked to hear more.
“Maybe I’ve just been too lucky, that lately I work with only the best guys but now whenever I work with someone else and they treat me differently it sticks out like a sore thumb.”
So what did someone do lately that upset you?
“So I worked this gig and I was the only woman, which is fine, I’m used to that. But at the end of the day he shook everyone’s hand but hugged me.”
Why do you think this upset you?
“It was different. It made me feel weird, different. Like he assumed I would want to hug instead just because I’m a woman. Or something, I didn’t even really know why he did it.”
Since this conversation I’ve told the story a few times and have gotten a random grab bag of reactions. I’ve been there‘s and I always don’t really know what to do‘s mostly.
The question it stirred in me was this.
We know what to make of the guy who hires her with no questions asked, “She’s the best at this work, so glad she was available.” Good guy, good feminist guy.
We know what to make of the guy who doesn’t hire her because of some visible prejudice of his, “Why do I have to hire her? Is this a quota thing?”
But what do we make of the guys who just make a weird mistake. Who hug you because they assume you’d rather hug. The ones who ask you about what you’re wearing instead of about what new program you’re coding because it just doesn’t leap to mind.
The ones who have been swimming in the patriarchal stream for so long that it’s just how they’ve learned to breathe. The ones that mean no harm. The ones who can relearn, who want to be better.
How do we communicate with them?